Ned gets home and I do that thing where I change my facial expression to look neutral but it's too late and I can't stop crying. Before I thought I couldn’t cry anymore because of the coke cure, which was starting to feel overwhelming and the whole point of the coke cure is not to feel overwhelmed, right? Ned puts his briefcase down and I hand him the book. He takes it in his hands and looks at it for a while like he needs to translate the words on the back cover and on the inside jacket too. What am I doing, I'm thinking, what am I doing crying in front of Ned?
And then he says: I'd like to read this book. I'd like to read this book with you.
And then I really can't stop crying.
I'll go out and purchase it right now, Ned says. They should have it at the bookstore. I'll be right back.
Ned hands me the book again, and I turn the page. The narrator says to Rick: "I'm sorry you hurt so much," and I'm thinking about how much I hurt, how much everyone I’ve ever known hurts, or everyone I’ve ever known that’s meant something to me, and then the ones who act like they don't hurt, like nothing's affecting them at all, they just go and die.
And then the narrator does something that I can hardly believe. She gets on the futon with Nick. She gets on the futon and lies on her side and put her arms around him as he’s sweating and in pain.
I don't think I could ever do something like that for someone I don't know. I’m not sure I could do something like that for anyone.
When Ned and I are done eating, I go to the bathroom to do a bump, and when I get back to the table Ned has already started reading. I'm only on page 7, and this book already means so much to me. The home-care worker is cleaning the apartment while Rick is in the hospital — she’s doing everything thoroughly and methodically; she wants Rick to come home to a place that’s soothing. She avoids the kitchen table, there’s something she saw there and when we find out what it is, when I find out what it is, that's where I'm crying again: "I thought of him planning a nice surprise, of him trying to do what he couldn't."
Rick had gone out to get cinnamon rolls like he used to, after his lover died but before Rick had also gotten sick; he’d gone out to choose the softest ones from the center, one for himself and one for the home-care worker. And now he's in the hospital. The narrator closes her eyes and lowers her head towards the table and I'm thinking of tears, tears at this table with Ned and he's not looking up, which helps me not to try to change anything and I wonder if he knows that.